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Landing page: Fast 50 2020 | Chicago Business & Financial News & Analysis – Crain’s Chicago Business

ShipBob founders Divey Gulati, left, and Dhruv Saxena. (Photo by Kendall Karmanian) Entrepreneurs who sell goods from their own websites have the p

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ShipBob founders Divey Gulati, left, and Dhruv Saxena. (Photo by Kendall Karmanian)

Entrepreneurs who sell goods from their own websites have the pain points of packing merchandise and waiting in line at the post office, where they don’t command the lowest rates. Dhruv Saxena figured he could save them time and money. So he stood outside a post office branch in Lincoln Park and pitched the operators of e-commerce sites, “If you give us your inventory, we can store it for you. We’ll package it and ship it out.”

Saxena says that Amazon spent billions figuring out the supply chain, and it’s hard for small and midsize players to compete with one- or two-day shipping. “They should have a fighting chance,” he says. “If we provide the infrastructure, their customers will see no difference versus Amazon.”

Saxena and partner Divey Gulati landed ShipBob’s first customers—marketers of granola bars and hair care products. But as software developers, they didn’t have experience in logistics. They had to hire warehouse workers and then figure out how to scale the operation.

Since its launch in 2014, ShipBob has grown to serving 3,600 businesses from 10 warehouses, six of which are franchised. The company last month raised $68 million in Series D funding from a SoftBank fund. That’s on top of the $62.5 million raised earlier from a half-dozen funders, including Hyde Park Venture Partners.

Ira Weiss, a partner at Hyde Park, calls the service “sticky,” meaning customers will use it on a regular basis and are unlikely to switch unless something goes wrong. “If you walk the aisles of one of the warehouses, you see people’s dreams,” he says. “I didn’t know someone could make a company out of selling margarita glasses.”

Volumes have shot up since the pandemic hit as consumers have become more accustomed to shopping online. Many ShipBob customers sell on Amazon, “but they don’t want all their eggs in the Amazon basket,” Saxena says. Third-party sellers were rankled early in the pandemic when Amazon prioritized essential items. “That demonstrated the importance of running an independent supply chain,” he says.

—Judith Crown

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